World History

About Primary Sources

Primary sources are newspaper articles, diaries, treaties, interviews, photographs, and other materials that were created during the time period of study. Because primary sources vary in type, there are many ways to locate these sources.  Look through the different boxes on this page to find great links to primary sources.  Keep in mind that many different types of materials count as primary sources -- music, art, even advertisements. 

Using Catalogs

You can use our online catalog, WorldCat Discovery, to find primary sources. Here are some tips for effective searches:

  • Use subject searches, and combine your topic with other subject headings such as Correspondence, Diaries, Interviews, or Personal narratives.  This will restrict the search to first-hand accounts.
  • Searching for a person as an author is another way to locate primary materials. 
  • Try limiting a search by date range to get materials published in those years. 

Documents, Papers, Publications, Etc.

Digital Collections


Poster for the World's Fair, 1937

As our list below shows, excellent digital collections are available online. While this page cannot include even a fraction of what's available, here are some tips for finding online collections:

  • Check out the web sites of university and college libraries.  If you are looking for regional materials, start with schools in that area.
  • Visit web sites of related museums and historical sites.